With the COVID -19 pandemic, our plans have shifted.
We now have unprecedented and unplanned opportunities to prepare SolarSPELL for even greater scalability, efficiency, and efficacy.

Train-the-Trainer Program: From In-Person to Fully Digital

A core component of SolarSPELL’s model is our Train-the-Trainer training. In order to continue to support the education of remote, rural learners while travel is not possible, we are crafting a fully digital version of our signature (heretofore in-person) training program. This new digital, offline training course will allow us to certify SolarSPELL trainers from half-a-world-away. This course will not only support projects in the near-future, but will also enable rapid expansion as we scale.

SolarSPELL Hardware Mass-Production

Rapid production of our digital libraries is essential. Devices are currently assembled twice per year by a team of volunteers at ASU, building approximately 100 libraries in a day. But with demand for SolarSPELL digital libraries increasing, we need the ability to increase quantity and ensure quality. We are ready to begin mass-production of the SolarSPELL hardware, in both the standard size and the SolarSPELL-mini.

Wikipedia for Schools and the Wikimedia Foundation

Wikipedia for Schools (WFS) consistently ranks among the library’s most popular content. However, WFS has not been updated or supported since 2013, meaning many of the 10,000 articles are sorely out-of-date. Working with Wikimedia Foundation (parent of Wikipedia), SolarSPELL and ASU students are ready to lead the charge in updating WFS to bring this resource to offline schools around the world.

Serving Refugee Camps

ASU and SolarSPELL recognize education must continue, even during a global health crisis. We are partnering with the UN Refugee Agency in Ethiopia to pilot our initiative in the Gambella refugee camp, home to over 300,000 refugees. Though SolarSPELL training staff cannot travel, we can train lead administrators remotely, who, in turn, can train teachers in pilot schools in Gambella – the first phase of expansion to refugee camps across East Africa.

Library User Interface and Navigation

We have been making steady progress in updating our library’s content, but the site’s user interface and navigation have remained unchanged. As we scale, it is important to invest in several key updates (e.g. search functionality) to improve our library users’ experience and increase learning outcomes.

Latin America Library Version 1

SolarSPELL recognizes the realities facing learners here in our own backyard. We are working to meet the needs of remote, rural communities in Arizona, borderlands, and Mexico. This focus area includes developing a Latin America library collection, with resources in Spanish and English. 

ASU has an established track record of success in the education sector in East Africa and the Pacific region, with emerging successes in Latin America. The development of a Latin America library collection will accelerate our impact in Spanish-speaking communities.

BMET Library

The SolarSPELL Biomedical Engineering Technician (BMET) library was developed to provide resource-constrained hospitals and clinics with much-needed user and service manuals. Hospitals and clinics throughout the developing world often receive and rely on donated medical equipment. Many times, the equipment arrives without documentation on how to use or repair, rendering it inoperable. In these contexts, technicians typically lack the necessary training to fix donated devices when they fail, and many of these hospitals and clinics lack internet access to find the information online.

However, the problem isn’t simply solved with internet access: user guides and service manuals are very difficult to locate online and often not openly available for download. Since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of access to user and service manuals has become an increasingly pressing global issue, particularly in relation to ventilators.

Agriculture Digital Library

Using the existing SolarSPELL platform, we are creating an offline agricultural digital library in order to meet the needs of small-scale farmers and rural agricultural or extension workers in East Africa. The digital library will contain locally relevant resources for farmers, trainers, students, and agricultural extension workers, giving them quick access to agricultural information. This library will focus on plant health, human health, animal health, and environmental health.